The 10th Avenue Bridge is the highest bridge in Minneapolis and another splendid example of the golden age of the reinforced concrete arch bridge.
It was originally named the Cedar Avenue Bridge and was built at a time when city officials were looking for a way to relieve congestion downtown and a route for automobiles to bypass the city. When it opened in 1929, it connected 10th Avenue Southeast to Cedar Avenue, and provided easier access to the newly built Duluth Highway (today known as US-8).
Considered the crowning achievement of city engineer Kristoffer Olsen Oustad, the (then) Cedar Avenue Bridge marked the downstream boundary of the St. Anthony Falls area. Oustad had assisted Frederick William Cappelen in the design of the Third Avenue Bridge and the F.W. Cappelen Memorial Bridge. Like the other two bridges, it is an open-spandrel concrete arch structure.
After the bridge had served its purpose for nearly four decades, it was badly in need of repair. At the same time, the new Mississippi River crossing for Interstate Highway I-35W was built, and the streets in the area between I-94 and the Mississippi River were significantly altered. Some of the approach spans of the Cedar Avenue Bridge were replaced with smaller concrete arches, while other approach spans were filled in and eliminated.
When the bridge reopened in 1976, it was about 800 feet shorter, but even more attractive, given all the smaller arch spans. It was renamed the 10th Avenue Bridge and connects 10th Avenue Southeast on the east side of the Mississippi to 19th Avenue South on the west side.
Unfortunately, the 10th Avenue Bridge has again fallen into disrepair. In some places, the concrete is so worn that the rebar is exposed. It requires, among other improvements, the replacement of eight of its spandrel columns and restoration of its arch piers. According to the city of Minneapolis, if the structure continues to deteriorate, the bridge will have to be replaced. Costs to repair the bridge are estimated at approximately $42 million.
Open-Spandrel Concrete Arch
Kristoffer Olsen Oustad
Four Lanes of 10th Avenue SE (North)
A much older bridge, also called the 10th Avenue Bridge, used to exist up river from the current 10th Avenue Bridge. Built in 1874, its stone piers and iron truss could not accommodate increased automobile traffic, and so it was closed in 1934, then sold for scrap metal during World War II.